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A Year of Change: Leadership in the Principal's Office
Intro Key Players The Program Report Card Timeline: Children First Learn More
The Program

The Leadership Academy has been called the centerpiece of Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to remake New York City's public school system.

Based on corporate management concepts, the Leadership Academy is a rigorous, fifteen-month training program designed to teach effective leadership skills to aspiring principals. Candidates must complete several phases throughout the course of their training including a theory-based summer session, a residency period spent working with a mentor principal inside a school, and a final preparatory summer before taking over one of New York City's 1200 public schools. Current projections indicate that New York City's schools will need 600 new principals over the next three years.

Summer Intensive Preparation

Phase one of the Leadership Academy's Aspiring Principals Program uses dynamic, problem-based learning scenarios to place the future school leaders in the types of situations they will experience as principals. Aspiring principals develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to confront pressing challenges and lead for instructional effectiveness.

Problem scenarios are based on:

  • NYC public school realities

  • Current restructuring efforts

  • Coaching from expert practitioners

  • Collaborative problem-solving methodologies

In phase two, aspiring principals enter a residency program where they are paired with another program participant and work with a mentor principal for the duration of the academic year. Over the course of the year participants hone their skills as they strategically address a school-based, instructional challenge identified by the residents, mentor principal, local instructional supervisors, and regional superintendents. Aspiring principals work on-site at the school four days each week. The fifth day is devoted to working sessions. Work sessions provide an opportunity to:

  • Plan strategies that address the instructional issues identified in their residency school

  • Engage in consultation and coaching with peers, specialists, and expert practitioners

  • Develop their capacities as leaders of a broad-based instructional improvement effort

  • Visit other schools to benchmark best practices, observe different teaching styles and strategies, and compare leadership styles
Planning Summer

The third phase of the program supports aspiring principals as they transition to leadership roles within specific schools. Activities include:

  • Analysis of student and teacher performance data

  • Preparation for "Firsts" (such as the first staff meeting, first parent association meeting, first school leadership team meeting)

  • Professional development planning

  • Preparation of a personal development plan for the first year as a principal
First Year Support

First year support offers individualized development assistance that is tailored to the challenges of assuming an instructional leadership role in a school. Support structures include technology-based opportunities for collaboration, retreats, workshops, strategic coaching, and peer relationships.

Source: NYC Leadership Academy (
Vital Statistics

Program Initiated:
July 7, 2003

Estimated Cost (First Year):
$13 Million

Length of Aspiring Principals Program:
15 Months

Aspiring Principal Salary:
$92,000 per year

Applicant Requirements:
• A 3.0 minimum GPA for her or his undergraduate degree
• A 3.0 minimum GPA for her or his graduate degree
• Minimum of 5 years work experience with at least 3 years as a teacher

Each participant is expected to make a commitment to work in NYC public schools for a minimum of five years.

Demographics of Aspiring Principals (2003-2004 Class):
• 90% from within NYC school systems
• 70% female
• 60% African-American, Latino, or Asian
• Age range: 26-66

Major Funding Sources:
• Partnership for the City of New York: $30 million
• Wallace Foundation: $15 Million
• Broad Foundation: $4 Million

"The principal is the lead teacher, but also the lead learner. The principal must create a community in which adults are constantly learning more effective ways to teach. But they must also learn to see past labels and build on the strength of every kid."
- Sandra Stein
Continue to Report Card

Funding provided by The Wallace Foundation
Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York